Saturday, May 12, 2012

(NEWZIMBABWE) US$4m shellfish consignment seized at Beitbridge

US$4m shellfish consignment seized at Beitbridge
11/05/2012 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter

A SOUTH African truck driver smuggled US$4 million worth of abalone shellfish into Zimbabwe concealed under a consignment of charcoal, a court heard.
Joseph Ndinganeni Ndou was intercepted at the Beitbridge border on May 1 after failing to declare the contraband.

Prosecutors say the charcoal and the illicit shellfish load were ordered by a Harare company, Sitric Marketing. Investigators believe the abalone – an endangered species in most countries – were destined for the Far East.

Ndou, 48, of Nancefield in Musina, was not asked to plead when he appeared before Beitbridge magistrate Gloria Takundwa on Tuesday.
He was released on US$100 after being charged with one count of smuggling under the Customs and Excise Act.

Prosecuting, Jabulani Mberesi said sometime in April, Sitric Marketing had placed an order for abalone and charcoal from South Africa.
They later engaged Chabata Transport Company to move the charcoal and shellfish to Zimbabwe.

Ndou arrived at the border on May 1 with invoices only reflecting his charcoal load. He made a false declaration to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra).

Acting on a tip-off, detectives from the Border Control and Minerals Unit intercepted Ndou’s truck at a final check-point and directed it to a Zimra container depot for physical examination.
Under the charcoal load, police found 500 packets of abalone worth $3,853,556.36.

Abalones are large edible sea snails with a shallow ear-shaped shell found mostly in warm seas. The mollusc attaches itself to a rock or stone using its muscular foot. The fleshy foot of the abalone is boiled, dried in the sun, and canned for export.

Trade in abalones is banned in Zimbabwe. South Africa indefinitely suspended abalone fishing in its waters in February 2008 to save the species from extinction.

Abalones are a delicacy in Asia and investigators believe that is where the consignment was ultimately destined after drying and canning.



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